Republican Pledge Deconstructed

By Lloyd the Idiot

As a process for selecting nominees for local elected office, I find conventions to be the worst possible choice.  The process is decidedly undemocratic, leads to the nomination of untested and polarizing candidates and generally just wastes my time.  One thing in particular that I hate about conventions, and firehouse primaries for that matter, is this inane loyalty pledge.   Obviously designed only to placate the paranoid, it’s not required under the RPV rules and it’s so routinely ignored that it serves no valid political purpose.  The Loudoun County version of the pledge, moreover, is so poorly worded that, even if you did follow it to the letter, you could still vote for a non-Republican in the general election.

Let’s take a look at it phrase by phrase, and discuss what it means for you, the Loudoun County Republican:

“I hereby declare that I intend”

It’s an intention written in the present tense and before knowing the outcome of the convention.   Arguably, then, you’re not violating the oath if you intend to support the nominee at the time of signing, but then change your mind once you find who the actual nominee is.   You can drive a truck through an exception like that.

“to support”

Not to be too Clintonian about it, but just what does “support” mean?   While it would imply at least voting for the nominee, ironically, the pledge doesn’t actually commit you to vote for the Republican nominee.  So what’s the point?

“all of the nominees of the Republican Party of Virginia for public office in the ensuing election.”

That means ALL RPV nominees, not just the ones in the races in which you cast a vote. In essence, then, you’d be committed to “support” Jeff Frederick, Eugene Delgaudio and every other Republican candidate in the state – even before you know who they are and even though they may live far outside your district.  I guess it’s fine for the mindless party line voter, but for independent thinkers (or at least those who like to think of themselves as independent), it’s a particularly tough one to swallow.

“I am in accord with the principles of the Republican Party of Virginia and have not participated in Virginia in the nomination process of a party other than the Republican Party in the last five years”

This provision, like the entire pledge, is optional under the RPV Party Plan.  It’s probably not a bad idea, but keep in mind that it would prohibit Republicans who more than once have voted for the weaker candidate in a Dem primary from ever participating in any Republican nominating activity.  Note, too, that the Loudoun version does not reference this latter limitation.

“but if I have, I now renounce affiliation with any other political party”

This is what gets me the most about the Loudoun version.   On the one hand, the delegate must swear that he hasn’t participated in another party’s nominating process, but, if he’s lying about it, it’s permissible as long as he now renounces the party affiliation. Stafford County has a little better wording in its version that’s more along the lines of the RPV plan.  Why Loudoun didn’t do it this way is beyond me.

 

Aside from the challenges with the text in this year’s version, recall the debacles of 2000 and 2007 brought about by similar loyalty pledges.  I guess some politicos are just gluttons for punishment.

As for me, I haven’t decided yet whether to attend the convention.  If I do, I won’t feel particularly compelled to “vote” for a particular candidate in the general election, but, since I try to be a man of my word, rest assured that I will “support” them all in my own special way.


Comments

  • G.Stone says:

    This pledge is a waste of time, energy and the paper it is printed on.

    A convention in 2011 is like reaching over your head to scratch your ass, wasted motion resulting in wasted time and treasure.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    They forgot to ad a “renounce Satan” part. When you are renouncing things you should just ad that in there for safety’s sake.

  • Mary Gail Swenson says:

    You know, Lloyd, you didn’t have to show off your superior knowledge of diagramming after I posted about my lack of same on the other post. You, my good man, are a heel.

  • LloydTheIdiot says:

    Mary Gail, my “superior knowledge of diagramming” is limited to the ability to do a Google Images search of the term. I never learned to diagram sentences either. Please don’t tell my wife. It’s a dirtly little secret I’ve had to live with all these years, and it’s best she not find out now. She’ll divorce me for sure.

  • Mary Gail Swenson says:

    Oh, good grief. Now I have something to hold over your head. 🙂

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Great post! And great addition, ed, I can’t believe they didn’t add that in there either.

  • Linda B says:

    Not to defend the pledge (I think it’s stupid and agree with most of what you’ve written), but I’ve never thought there was ever any representation that it dictates who the signer votes for once it comes time to step into the booth. That decision is always between the voter and his/her God, and it would be exceptionally un-American to try to force anyone to vote a certain way. I always took the pledge to mean that publicly the signer would support the R nominee, or at least not disparage them in any way.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “That decision is always between the voter and his/her God…”

    Interesting position Linda, given your earlier position on another subject on another thread.

  • Linda B says:

    eb, Again, I did not take either a pro-choice or pro-life position on that thread (though you can probably guess where I stand)…. The point of my argument there was that if someone believes abortion to be murder, it is unreasonable to ask that person not to try to legislate against it (as it would be to ask someone not to try to legislate against “regular” murder). Not sure how many more ways I can explain that.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    If someone/a party really believes in this pledge, it’s unreasonable to ask that person/party not to try to institute its pledge rules… even in a place where voting is “between his/her God”.

    Would you agree? Of course not.

    This is why this pledge is ultimately an artifact of some kind of fear or lack of confidence.

  • Linda B says:

    eb, what you and I have here is a failure to communicate. Because I would in fact say it is unreasonable to ask the person not to try to institute the pledge rules if they genuinely believe in it. My point was, I never interpreted the “rules” as dictating who the person ultimately chooses in the voting booth. I interpreted the rules as dictating public behavior during the campaign.

  • Linda B says:

    I do agree with your last statement, though.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “eb, what you and I have here is a failure to communicate. Because I would in fact say it is unreasonable to ask the person not to try to institute the pledge rules if they genuinely believe in it”

    To what point? Creation of a law? Heading into the voting booth with those who signed the pledge to “validate” their allegiance?

    Is that ok?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    I think Linda B has it covered, and would further agree that some of the intent is akin to the old convention that used to be called “common courtesy”, which, like “common sense” is becoming a severely endangered concept.

    eb, do you ever stop to consider that people like you are why people like Weiner end up in public office?

    Not necessarily because of any “pledge”, but because casting your own worldview out upon the waters with an expectation that it is the right ( or ONLY) way to go lets a lot of bullshit pass under the wire because it didn’t trip YOUR wire? Or that the people also able to vote don’t conform to your worldview?

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Barbara, again, you have it exactly backwards.

    “Not necessarily because of any “pledge”, but because casting your own worldview out upon the waters with an expectation that it is the right ( or ONLY) way to go lets a lot of bullshit pass under the wire because it didn’t trip YOUR wire? Or that the people also able to vote don’t conform to your worldview?”

    This might be the lamest thing you’ve ever posted.

    The more world views, the better. Even yours need to see the light of day.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    The part you’re missing (as would seem usual, eb) is “with an expectation that it is the right ( or ONLY) way to go”.

    The system exists, and is changed from within.

    Sitting on the sidelines languidly sniping doesn’t really get anything changed, and that can be very useful if the desired end is to sit on the sidelines languidly sniping.

    Here’s hoping to the world becoming a “better” place for your benefit! lol

  • Linda B says:

    eb, Grr. One more time: ACCORDING TO MY INTERPRETATION, I DO NOT THINK THE PLEDGE DICTATES WHO THE SIGNER ULTIMATELY VOTES FOR.

    Therefore, going into the voting booth to see how they vote would be unnecessary.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “with an expectation that it is the right ( or ONLY) way to go”

    Barbara, how is this different from the many of the views you posit here and other places? Do you post views that you feel don’t have merit or are not “right” or “the ONLY” way to go?

    If given a good argument, I’m always up to reexamining my positions. This has happened on this very blog.

    We define “the system” in different ways perhaps Barbara. What do you mean by it here?

    Last question: are you gearing up to calling me another name? Remember, you are restricted to the the “O’s”.

    Linda, sorry to frustrate you. I don’t think we are failing to communicate, I think we are failing to agree. I do understand where you are drawing the line on the reach of pledge — it stops at the voting booth for you.

    My caution to you is this: some may not see the line stopping there, just as with the other topic we discussed.

    Are the others free to draw their lines and work to elect their lawmakers to make laws that make their lines the law of the land? Sure.

    However, it is not “unreasonable” to argue against their points or how they view the role of government in our personal lives.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Don’t forget to ask for the Steve Simpson/Jack Ryan version of the pledge when you show up.

  • Linda B says:

    Yes, then, a failure to agree.

    Is there a line where the state should no longer have jurisdiction? Of course. The question is where to draw the line. We neither want to be a lawless state nor a dictatorship.

    For me, murder falls well inside the line. So if someone believes something to be the taking of an innocent life, to my mind that person would not only have the right but the moral obligation to try to legislate against it.

    Party pledges? Not so much. I personally would think it ridiculous for someone to try to legislate that. As a voluntary pledge, I don’t have a huge problem with it; if anything, the party is probably hurting itself by asking people to sign the stupid thing.

    Light bulbs? Also not so much. I think this bumper sticker sums up my opinion nicely on that: http://bit.ly/mt7ztJ

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    eb, no plans to call you a name other than “eb”, actually.

    Um, when have I said my opinions wre anything other than opinions?

    How nice that you are prepared to change your opinions. Good for you. Not holding my breath on what you may consider a “good” argument for anything that doesn’t originate with you, but still, good for you.

    Shall we stick to the structure of the political system as the “system” of reference? That’s where the discussion is, and I had no intent to stray from it, nor do I feel I did.

    Key word again eb–“expectation”, which is easy to do when one seems to feel one’s opinion should be accepted as fact or law by others.

    I don’t expect anyone to accept something as fact without proof. I don’t care what they think of my opinion.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    These pledges are ridiculous, whether effectively worded or not (but I very much like this post’s effort to dissect it into its individual particles of stupidity). I think the correct position is that one should never vote for any candidate in any election (primary or general) if that candidate has signed or taken a “pledge” advocated by any interest group. These people are supposedly chosen because they have skills, knowledge and judgment that they are putting to the service of the people. Issues will arise that cannot be resolved consistent with some generic “pledge”. I view any pledge signer as definitionally unqualified and incompetent to hold public office.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Barbara, Linda and I were discussing a topic that lives both inside the political system and outside of it (churches, families, doctor/patient relationships).

    You place whatever “expectations” are present in posts through your own reading. It seems if you disagree it’s languid sniping with a high degree of expectation that those reading should accept comment/opinion as fact (how very odd).

    We were having a discussion about lines, voting booths, voter/God decisions, and pledges. When was anyone here talking about “facts”?

    This is a thread full of opinion.

    Do you have one on the pledge? Do you have one on the where the line is drawn on pledge enforcement?

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Nova, good to see you again. I agree with you. These pledges limit the privileges of citizenship and define duty to an interest group. Candidates who sign have either limited their field of possible solutions available to them in office or do not take their pledge all that seriously (the latter is almost always the case).

    <>

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Note to BM: the above was an opinion.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    eb, perhaps if you read what I actually wrote instead of using the opportunity for a kneejerk languid driveby snipe, you’d see from my first one on the thread that I agreed with Linda B.

    (and I still haven’t called you any names. Sigh!)

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “I think Linda B has it covered, and would further agree that some of the intent is akin to the old convention that used to be called “common courtesy”, which, like “common sense” is becoming a severely endangered concept.”

    Sorry, this was cryptic to me. Are you saying here that the pledge is an attempt to ensure courtesy?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Good boy! Now, read the rest of Linda B’s remarks, referencing at the very least refraining from public attack on candidates in the process in which one has participated, before one’s final decision in the booth.

    I don’t find that cryptic in the least (kind of like “I agree with Linda” seems pretty straightforward to me–no hidden code intended or inserted. And people say I have a tinfoil hat! lol).

  • edmundburkenator says:

    So you think the pledge is stupid.

    Have you taken it?

    Thanks!

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    eb, for someone who likes to set themselves up as the eidos of all that is wise and reasonable, please stop putting words in my mouth.

    I think it is unenforceable, but it comes with the territory in a state that does not register by party (see the concept of “system”, above–plainly written, not encrypted. Thanks!)

    Yes, I have taken it before, and again recently, when filling out a delegate form.

    I also tended to follow the rule, when I belonged to the local committee, of not savaging fellow members. When you opt to join a team, whether you sign anything or not, there is an expectation (see both common sense, and common courtesy above, also not encrypted) of at the very least going through the motions of being a team player.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “eb, perhaps if you read what I actually wrote instead of using the opportunity for a kneejerk languid driveby snipe, you’d see from my first one on the thread that I agreed with Linda B.”

    From Linda:

    “Not to defend the pledge (I think it’s stupid and agree with most of what you’ve written), but I’ve never thought there was ever any representation that it dictates who the signer votes for once it comes time to step into the booth.”

    “eb, for someone who likes to set themselves up as the eidos of all that is wise and reasonable, please stop putting words in my mouth.”

    You inserted Linda’s words into your mouth, not I.

    I’m done with the languid sniping. It’s clear what your position is on this particular pledge with your last comment added to what is sure to be a more selected/parsed set of Linda’s comments.

    Holding off on the name-calling is o’ppreciated.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Nicely done, eb. The one word you chose from a parenthesis of a more (here’s a word of yours) NUANCED discussion. And as noted specifically, I think it is unenforceable.

    How nice that you’re done, but I feel doubt.

    I suspect much more passive aggressive display from you as the season progresses, as I’m getting a bit of a whiff that the elections may not turn out as you wish this fall either.

    sigh!

  • edmundburkenator says:

    How do you know what I wish for this election season? I don’t even know.

    Doubt is the first step toward real faith, Barbara.

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